During Johan Santana's no-hitter celebration, a fan took the field, and for a beautiful few seconds, he was accepted as a member of the delirious mob.
Prior to Friday night's game, no New York Met had ever thrown a no-hitter. We wouldn't talk much about this if the team were, say, the Brewers, but it's a big deal to Mets fans because everything is a big deal to Mets fans. It's perhaps the most interesting fan base in baseball, molded in part by the little-brother complex, the team's gross mismanagement during the 2000s, and probably, in some way, the team's unreasonably hideous uniforms.
The Mets have a knack for producing/inspiring two things. One is terrific baseball writers -- people like Jason Fry and Greg Prince; David Roth, Ted Berg, and everyone at Amazin' Avenue. The Mets have hogged a disproportionate number of great writers, and it hardly seems fair. The other sort of person the team produces is just one or two notches to the left of "baseball writer": total batshit zealot.
We saw two such zealots Friday night, only seconds after Johan Santana completed his no-hitter. It was certainly a rare moment in the arena of field-storming; while most others wish to draw attention to themselves, these gentlemen seemed like they merely wanted to join in the celebration.
One of them was not captured on camera, and his run was ended before he could even cross the foul line. The other, though, made it all the way to the mob in the infield. To the video:
Watch closely. We first see the gentleman in question at 0:26, very briefly, as he enters the celebration. And for a full 10 seconds, he celebrates as though he's a teammate. The players take no mind, and why would they? Their man just did something that hadn't been done in more than half a century.
Indeed, he was absorbed within the system of the mob. And then the system's protective agents identified him as foreign, and tossed him out.
A unique field-storming, to be sure, which calls to mind of the most famous field-stormers in history: the two men who ran the bases with Hank Aaron during his 714th home run trot. Then, as now, the field-storming was tolerated by the subject of the celebration. (In fact, Santana said he wasn't even aware until the next day that a fan had been on the field.)
To the stats:
Estimated run time: 25 seconds
Estimated run distance: 150 feet
Indignant gestures: 1 (joined no-hitter celebration)
Articles of clothing of note: Gary Carter jersey
Security guards in play: 2
Was it worth it for this man? Well, you'd have to ask him, but he certainly paid a price. He spent the next 38 hours in jail -- two nights, in other words -- and the possibility exists that he could receive up to a year in prison for violating a delightfully-nicknamed law:
They were both charged with trespassing and entering the field of a sports event, otherwise known as the "Calvin Klein Law," named after the famed designer’s venture on the MSG floor during a 2003 Knicks game.
The gentleman, Rafael Diaz, seems like a normal guy. According to the New York Post, he's a husband, father of two and professional pilot. He is not the drunkard or frat kid we're most likely to imagine. This is what the Mets do to people: they take well-adjusted people and drive them completely insane.
The Post asked him whether it was worth it, and he declined to answer. Such a question is like asking an icicle whether it was worth it to melt and fall off the gutter. It is nature, you see: the way it was is the only way it could have been.